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Hoover Panel Urges Aid to Homeless

June 07, 1989|From a Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Terming it "shameful" for such a prosperous state as California to allow up to 250,000 homeless people to live on the streets, the Little Hoover Commission on Tuesday called for more aggressive leadership, improved program coordination and less red tape for homeless aid applicants.

Noting that more than $780 million from a variety of sources is spent annually on homeless aid services, the watchdog state government commission said it found existing programs to be fragmented and poorly coordinated.

"The homeless are not a hidden or ignored problem in this state," Commission Chairman Nathan Shapell said in releasing the findings of a two-year study. "Yet the state's streets, parking lots, greenbelts, alleys and stairwells still are hosts to thousands of homeless families and children nightly."

Two key recommendations contained in a 13-point program were proposals to consolidate all programs for the homeless under the state Health and Welfare Agency and to establish centralized "one-stop" county reception centers for homeless aid applicants.

The report of the blue-ribbon commission said the one-stop reception centers would sign up all newly homeless individuals, assess their needs and hook them into all applicable aid programs.

Maggie DeBow, a spokeswoman for the State Health and Welfare Agency, said the agency "would be willing to consider any and all proposals that the commission has to offer to help reduce the homeless problem in California."

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